Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot| 5771
Ein Ayah: Benefits and Dangers of Aesthetics(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:45)
Gemara: Rav said: The young men of
Ein Ayah: There are two ways for a young man to straighten his path when his physical and emotional powers and his zest for life are at their height. The normal path is to distance himself from preoccupation with beauty, despite the fact that feelings of appreciation for beauty are good and embellish the spirit. A pure tzaddik can use aesthetics directly in a very positive manner, as Hashem would not have created this strong feeling in man for no positive reason. In fact, aesthetics broaden the mind and a person’s good energies, as the gemara says about a nice looking wife, living quarters, and household objects.
A good fragrance is a general term for fine enjoyment that is fitting for people with a delicate and pure spirit, but Chazal treat it as an enjoyment that is not equally fit for all people. For the right people, such emotions are special tools for positive gain. Despite all of the advantages of beauty, though, most people are forced to push off enjoying it during their adolescence because of the moral damage that it is likely to cause. We find the story of the good looking young man, who was very conscious of his looks until he felt his evil inclination creep in. He swore to become a nazir (which would take away from his looks) for which he was greatly praised (Nedarim 9b).
It is correct to push away interest in aesthetics, which is an external value, as a safeguard from serious danger. However, whenever one has to sacrifice something of value, there is a lack of shleimut (completeness). The higher path is for one’s intellect and morality to be so complete that even the appreciation of aesthetics can be used in a variety of shades so they will add grandeur to the true shleimut of morality, holy behavior, and knowledge, love, and fear of Hashem.
In the future, though, there will be adolescents in
This is only for one who did not experience sin, for those who did, and thus did not want to give up pleasure even when they should have, will be missing the necessary shleimut.
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Nachum Eliezer Ra'anan
ben Chayim HaCohen
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